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Hum Reprod. 2005 May;20(5):1148-52. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Cracking the egg: increased complexity in the zona pellucida.

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  • 1Reproductive Biology and Genetics Group, Division of Medical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.


A functional zona pellucida is critical for both fertilization and the early stages of embryo development. Recent data from genomic and proteomic studies have questioned our simplistic view of the zona as being composed of three proteins whose functions are clearly defined. In the human, for example, the zona pellucida is composed of four proteins, not three. The increased complexity of the zona pellucida in humans and other species across the evolutionary tree now demands that we reconsider our reliance on the mouse model for understanding early fertilization events. Additionally, we are now well placed to examine, for the first time, potential defects in zona genes and their proteins associated with defined pathology.

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